A Brazilian Caipirinha and Record Bar Is Opening in Adams Morgan

At Cana, try variations on Brazil's national drink to the tune of Brazilian funk and soul.

A classic caipirinha at Cana. Photograph by Hawkeye Johnson.

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Cana. 2412 18th St., NW. 

Barman Radovan Jankovic wants to raise the profile of cachaça in DC.  The sugarcane spirit will feature prominently at the new Brazilian bar Cana, opening in Adams Morgan on July 5. (UPDATE: The opening has been delayed by a few weeks.) The place will specialize in caipirinhas—the national drink of Brazil combining cachaça, lime, and sugar—as well as Brazilian vintage vinyl music.

“The idea is to have as large as possible selection of cachaça that you can get in DC, and then if I do any additional travels to Brazil, probably I’ll be able to source a few more. Not so many importers are getting attracted by cachaça, so it is not the easiest task,” says Jankovic, who was previously a partner in Residents Cafe & Bar. At Cana, he’s partnered with fellow mixologist Marko Bogdanovic and chef Robert Curtis, whose recently formed Unordinary Hospitality Group also operates South America-inspired Mercy Me in the West End. The idea for Cana was born in the early days of the pandemic, when Jankovic escaped the shutdowns for a month-long stay in Rio de Janeiro with his Brazilian girlfriend.

The menu will have several variations of the caipirinha, all using real sugarcane. “A lot of flavor comes from the actual cane,” Jankovic says. “You get all these like grassy notes that you really can connect to the cachaca.” Beyond the classic caipirinha, one version will use coconuts processed in-house, while others will highlight passionfruit or local strawberries.

Other cocktails will showcase Brazilian ingredients. A sour with mezcal and pineapple incorporates a cachaca made with jambu, a fruit that creates a numbing sensation, and port wine, bringing in the Portuguese influence. Another section of the menu dubbed “Big in Brazil” will include popular cocktails such as a Moscow Mule with a ginger foam or Rabo de Galo, combining cachaca, vermouth, and Cynar. The wine list will feature at least one sparkling option from Brazil as well as several Portuguese labels, and will be heavy on natural wines.

Meanwhile, Curtis’s food menu has an entire section devoted to picanha, a cut of beef with a layer of fat from the rump of the cow that’s popular in Brazil. The beef will be prepared several ways: as a tartare, burger, grilled skewers, and charcoal-grilled steak. A chicken section includes grilled hearts and a butterflied-and-grilled whole Cornish hen, while seafood specialties range from traditional salt-cod croquettes to grilled shrimp bathed in cachaça butter. The menu is rounded out with classic Brazilian sides, including cheese bread with hot guava, salads, and farofa, which is made of yucca flour sautéed with with butter, onions, and garlic.

Architect and designer Thales Maia incorporated a hi-fi corner to display Cana co-owner Radovan Jankovic’s massive Brazilian vintage vinyl collection.

The 44-seat bar aims to have a classic, retro look with wood paneling, green corduroy banquettes, vintage mirrors, and other design elements imported from Brazil. The space has an open kitchen, and Jankovic says they drew inspiration from bottecos, small bars all over Rio and São Paulo where you get your food and drinks from the same counter.

Jankovic’s favorite part of the space, though, is the “hi-fi corner” with bookshelves showcasing his extensive Brazilian vinyl collection and an analogue turntable. While in Rio, he says he bought more than a thousand vintage records, which he shipped back to the US. Cana will have near-daily DJs playing Brazilian funk, soul, samba, and more focused on the 1960s through early ’80s. (Stay tuned for a Bossa Nova brunch.)

“We have a really high-quality sound system that’s going to distribute perfect sound,” Jankovic says.

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.